Dick Cole, 103, Last of the Doolittle Raiders Dies

Dick Cole, 103, Last of the Doolittle Raiders Dies
Devon Ravine/Northwest Florida Daily News via AP, File

On April 18, 1942, little more than four months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 80 airmen in 16 modified North American B-25B Mitchell bombers lifted off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet in the northwest Pacific bound for targets in Japan. The operation marked the first Allied retaliatory strike on the Japanese Home Islands. To plan the daring mission U.S. Army Air Forces Lt. Gen. Henry H. “Hap” Arnold had tapped Lt. Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle, the famed air racer, test pilot and aeronautical engineer. Doolittle piloted the lead plane from Hornet. His co-pilot was 26-year-old Lieutenant Richard E. “Dick” Cole. Neither Doolittle nor any of his men had flown a single combat mission. On April 9, 2019, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Cole, 103, the last of the famed Doolittle Raiders, died at home in San Antonio. In 2014 Military History spoke with Cole about the bold raid and its surprising aftermath.

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